Christmas around the world at Truckee Elementary |

Christmas around the world at Truckee Elementary

The bilingual classes of Gretchen Heneveld, Christine Duner and Tracy Green at Truckee Elementary School took a trip around the world before Christmas break.

With their tickets and passports in hand, they dressed up passengers and boarded a plane that took them to six different countries to learn about different celebrations during December.

The first stop was Holland, where the students participated in the St. Nicholas celebration, then to Sweden where Santa Lucia lights the way with her crown of candles.

In Mexico they celebrated Las Posadas, where each night a procession is held to commemorate the journey Mary and Joseph made. Traditional songs are sung and bunuelos, empanadas, tamales and fole are among some of the favorite foods served. On Dec. 24, when Mary and Joseph finally receive a place to sleep, the biggest and most festive celebration is had with delicious food and a pinata for the children.

Onward the students traveled to Israel to learn about the story of Hanukkah and the Maccabees and the significance of the Menorah and dreidel.

Following that trip, they returned to the United States for the custom of Santa Claus and households celebrating Kwanzaa on Dec. 26 with their Kinara – seven candles for seven days reflecting and celebrating ideals such as responsibility, unity and more. They learned about the mkeke – a special placemat holding fruits from the harvest.

“The students learned that around the world people love to celebrate and be with their families each in their own distinct way and style. In our class, we celebrate with a parade to various classrooms, helping to pass that peace along to others,” Duner said.

Sierra Mountain Middle School students in Sara Zonca’s classes, who partner with Heneveld’s kindergarten class, helped the younger students write Santa letters, and accompanied the kindergartners while they paraded in costumes, singing Christmas carols in many classrooms.

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